South Boston News & Record
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Two killed in early morning house fire in Nathalie area
SoVaNow.com / March 02, 2014An elderly Nathalie-area woman and her adult son died in a doublewide trailer fire on 1076 Lower Liberty Road early Sunday morning around 1 a.m.
The blaze, which spread from a living room fireplace used to heat the trailer, claimed the lives of Ellen Canada, 67, and Brien Williams, 33.
A third person living at the home, James Canada, 65, was able to escape without serious injury, although he suffered burn injuries to his hands and leg.
Returning to the scene of the disaster Sunday afternoon, Mr. Canada said his wife was the first person to wake up to discover flames spreading through the house.
The couple hit the floor as smoke filled the home’s interior. Mr. Canada said he started crawling towards the living room, which led to the kitchen and the trailer home’s back door. Calling to his wife to follow him, he said he kicked out the screen door and rolled to safety onto a patio deck.
Canada said he thought his wife was close behind him, but she was nowhere to be seen.
“They say they found Ellen in the bedroom,” said Canada on Sunday afternoon as he was consoled by family members and neighbors milling in front of the destroyed home. “I thought she was right behind me.”
Firefighters found Mrs. Canada’s body in the master bathroom, said Liberty Volunteer Fire Chief Andy Hughes.
Hughes speculated that she became disoriented amid the fire and smoke and lost track of her husband as he made his way to safety.
“It’s not hard to do,” said Hughes. He added that trained firefighters can lose their bearings in the middle of a blaze: “You just get turned around and you can’t find your way back.”
Canada said he never saw his stepson, who had been sleeping in a bedroom on the other end of the trailer home. They were cut off from each by flames and heavy smoke.
It was inside the charred bedroom that firefighters found his remains.
According to authorities, Brien Williams may have placed the E-911 call first reporting the fire. Hughes said he believed that a call also may have come in nearly simultaneously from a neighbor who spotted it.
Williams was the father of a young son who also lived at the trailer home, but he spent the night with his mother, who lives nearby.
“Most of the time he’d be here with Brien,” said Canada. Referring to the boy being with his mother overnight, he added, “Thank God for all that, that’s all I can say.”
As soon as he got out, Canada ran over to his sister’s trailer home next door. He awoke members of the household, including his nephews, who ran out to try to save the trapped family members and the home.
Ricky Faulkner, Canada’s nephew, said his uncle shouted out “my house is on fire, my house is on fire!” and “that’s when my brothers and me ran out” to try to help.
They turned on a garden hose outside the home and pointed the water towards the fire, but by then it was raging out of control.
When the Liberty VFD arrived, flames were shooting out of the roof, from the middle section that housed the living room, and from underneath the trailer, said Hughes. Firefighters attempted to enter from the rear to rescue the occupants, but the flames were too intense, said Hughes.
“When we got there the floor had caved in. I knew that was going to be a big issue,” said Hughes.
He said from the description with the E-911 call, firefighters knew there were people trapped inside the home.
“They did try to enter in back, but it was too involved,” he said.
It took firefighters four hours to extinguish the fire. Liberty sent three trucks and 16 firefighters, North Halifax sent one fire truck, two ambulances and 12 firefighters, Halifax came with three trucks and 12 people, and Triangle sent three trucks and nine people. Firefighters were on the scene until 5:10 a.m. Sunday putting out the last embers.
Hughes said the emergency call toned out at 1:14 a.m. and Liberty firefighters arrived five minutes later, at 1:19.
Arriving at the scene Sunday around noon was Ginger Weaver with the American Red Cross, who met with Mr. Canada and family members to offer assistance. Before returning to his destroyed home Sunday afternoon, Canada had gone into town to find some clothes to wear, said his nephew, Ricky Faulkner. The home and all the family’s possessions were destroyed.
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